Sunday, November 24, 2013
Panthers have work to do in secondary
By David Newton
MIAMI -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera didn't say he was going to make changes to his secondary after Sunday's 20-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins, but don't be surprised if he does.
The week after starter Josh Thomas was beaten deep on a couple of plays against the St. Louis Rams, including a 63-yard touchdown that was nullified by a penalty, the cornerback was inactive.
Rivera and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott also sat cornerback Josh Norman this season after he missed some plays.
After watching Miami wide receiver Mike Wallace torch cornerback Captain Munnerlyn for a 53-yard touchdown and a 57-yard catch that set up a field goal, and after watching him get behind safety Mike Mitchell near the goal line on the next-to-last-play, Rivera hinted something had to change.
Or he could make more changes.
"Getting over the top,'' Rivera said. "Your job is to keep it in front of you and you have to. And we're going to address that and make sure it gets corrected. We're going to play the guy that does things that we ask them ... to do it the right way.''
Rivera didn't mention names. It's highly unlikely he would make a change with Munnerlyn, who has been Carolina's steadiest corner all season. He has pointed to Mitchell on several occasions as the inspirational leader of the secondary, so a change there would come as a surprise.
But Rivera obviously wasn't happy, to the point he almost couldn't enjoy the win.
"It almost certainly has to be corrected,'' Rivera said. "We cannot allow those things. That's disappointing. A couple of things we're going to address and get corrected. We have to because we can't allow that. We don't give ourselves a chance to win games. We've got to play smart.''
Munnleryn, who for the past few weeks has argued Carolina's secondary that came into the season as a weak link wasn't getting respect, took responsibility for Wallace's big plays in the first half.
"It's my fault,'' he said. "I sat on his route and thought a comeback was coming, but I stuck to the route and lost him. I have a sharp memory and I'll pick my game back up.''
Mitchell didn't seem concerned that Wallace was going to catch the last deep pass and spoil Carolina's comeback.
"No way I was going to let him catch the ball,'' he said.
And no way will Rivera sit back and watch deep passes get behind his secondary.